By Silvia Paz, Alianza Coachella Valley
As we face this unprecedented public health crisis together, many community organizations remain steadfast in our resolve to ensure local minorities are counted during the 2020 Census. Emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic shine a spotlight on the importance of accurate census data, which determine funding for schools, hospitals, housing, nutrition and health programs in our communities.
As of right now, the Latino communities of the Coachella Valley are seeing lower rates of census participation than those across the county, state and nation. This is not surprising considering the concerns many minorities have about giving personal information to the government, fears of an immigration crackdown, and the unsuccessful attempt to add a citizenship question to the census form.
The truth is that the census is nothing to fear. By law, your information must be kept confidential and cannot be shared with other government agencies. And to be clear: The census will not ask about your or family member’s citizenship status.
The ten minutes it takes most people to complete their census form will have a meaningful impact on the Coachella Valley for the next ten years. Residents can easily and safely self-respond to the census online at https://my2020census.gov or by calling the Spanish response line at 844-468-2020. You do not need the ID code included on census forms delivered to homes, but use the code if you have it.
Responding to the census is the best way for every resident to make sure our community’s most valuable resource — its people — is recognized and that we see our fair share of government investment. A full count of local communities will also ensure that we see fair government representation in everything from local boards to the U.S. Congress.
If you have questions or concerns about participating in the census, a great resource is NALEO Educational Fund’s toll-free national Census bilingual hotline. Call 877-EL-CENSO (877-352-3676) Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. to get additional information.
If you have not completed the Census, do it now. The Census creates a picture of our entire country once every ten years. We must make sure the strength and diversity of our community are included in that picture.